Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 20, No. 1
March, 1942


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Daniel William Peery

Daniel William Peery, born on August 16, 1864 near Edinburgh in Grundy County, Missouri, was the son of Dr. Arch Perry and his wife, Elizabeth Kirk Peery, the seventh of a family of eight children. His paternal grandfather, George Peery, and paternal grandmother, Jane Campbell Thompson, came from Tazewell County, Virginia and settled in Grundy County, Missouri in 1835, and reared a family of 18 children, most of whom located in North Missouri. In 1850 his uncle, William Peery, established what was known as Grand River College at Edinburgh, Missouri.

His great-grandfather, William Peery, with his three brothers, John, Thomas, and George, in 1773 migrating from Augusta County, Virginia, settled within the bounds of what is now Tazewell County. As a member of Captain William Russell's company, he participated on October 10, 1774 in the Battle of Point Pleasant, one of the first battles of the American Revolution, and was with George Rodgers Clark at the capture of Vincennes from the British. As a member of Lieutenant Rees Bowen's company he was wounded at the battle of King's Mountain; and in 1781, under Captain James Moore, he and his brother, John, and John's son, Thomas, participated in the engagement at Whitzells Mills, and the battle of Guilford Court House.

When Tazewell County was established in 1800, William Peery donated 13 acres of land for the county seat. In December, 1800 George and William Peery were appointed coroners for Tazewell County, and William's son, Thomas, represented Tazewell County in the Virginia House of Delegates at the sessions of 1819-20 and 1823-24, and at one period was a justice of the county court.

William Peery's will, dated June 17, 1822, was probated in Tazewell County, with Robert Peery, his son, and John Wynne, a son-in-law, executors, and with bequests to the following sons: Robert, Evans, George, Thomas, and Henry Fielding, and to his daughters, Nancy, Olivia, Sophie, Cynthia, Emily and Cosby. William Peery's wife was Sarah Evans, a daughter of John Evans.1

The Peery family are still prominent in Virginia, with George Campbell Peery of Tazewell County a member of the Congress of

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the United States, beginning with the 68th Congress on March 4, 1923, and later Governor of the state of Virginia. Dan W. Peery's kinsmen, the Reverend Edward T. Peery, was for years superintendent of the Indian Manual Labor School in the Kansas Territory, west of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Reverend John T. Peery in 1844 was an assistant to N. M. Tolbert, assigned to the Delaware and Kickapoo charge in the Indian Mission Conference.2 In 1845, John T. Peery was assigned to the Kansas, and Edward T. Peery to the Cherokee District. In 1846 Edward T. Peery was assigned to Wyandotte, and John T. Peery to Tahlequah.

Daniel William Peery, after finishing his schooling at Grand River College in Grundy County, and starting on a career of teaching, became interested in Payne's Boomer organization.

With a group of friends3 and a camping outfit he traveled with a party of his neighbors from Missouri to a point in the Chickasaw Nation immediately outside of the Pottawatomie Reservation, east of Oklahoma City, and there awaited the opening. At the appointed day and hour he and his party made the run into the country then opened for entry, and staked claims south and east of Oklahoma City on the upland that rises from the North Canadian River toward the south and which forms the divide between that river and the South Canadian, near Crutcho Creek, which is now either in or contiguous to the Oklahoma City oil field. The following day he spent in locating the corners of his quarter-section, after which he and his party visited Oklahoma City. As he was watching the scene where thousands of people had gathered to hear the Postmaster read the names of those who had received mail, his own name was called and he received a letter from home.

After building his pioneer house he immediately purchased a team of oxen with which to break the sod and prepare for fall planting of wheat. By summer he had his house completed and had broken a large tract of land which he prepared carefully and sowed in wheat in the fall. On occasions he staked the oxen out to graze on the prairie grass while he attended Kickapoo conventions in Oklahoma City.

Having helped his friends organize a democratic club on Crutcho Creek, he traveled over the county assisting in the organization of similar clubs, thereby becoming acquainted with the people. The Peery family were prominent Democrats. At the National Democratic Convention in 1920 at San Francisco, Dan W. Peery was a delegate from Oklahoma; a brother, N. A. Peery, a delegate from Oregon; and a cousin, George C. Peery, a delegate from Virginia.

3Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 7, pp. 284, 291, 292, 302, 321, 429; Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 8, pp. 109, 110, 111, 123.

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Under Act of Congress, May 2, 1890 (26 U. S. Stat., p. 81) a Governor and other territorial officers having been inaugurated in office, the territory was districted for legislative purposes, and a call issued for the election of members for the first Oklahoma Territorial Legislature. Dan W. Peery became a candidate for membership from his district in the lower House of the legislature. His active participation in the organization of democratic clubs had brought him favorably before the people and he was elected on the 5th day of August, 1890. This body consisted of 26 members, a large majority of whom had never had any legislative experience.

Guthrie had been designated in the Organic Act as the temporary capital, although Oklahoma City had wanted to be so designated. The question of the location of the capital and other public buildings being moving questions before that legislative body, party lines were shattered. The bill for the location of the capital being considered at the early stage of the session, it was first passed in the Council (upper body) and then by the House, locating the capital at Oklahoma City. An effort was then being made in the upper body to have the bill returned for further consideration with a view of amending it so as to defeat the location of the capital at Oklahoma City. While the question was being debated in the Council, Peery, who was a member of the enrolling committee of the house, had the bill enrolled and carried it to the Speaker with the request that he sign it. With the signature of the Speaker on the bill he hurriedly proceeded to the Council chamber for signature of the president of that body, but adjournment for the day occurred a few minutes before his arrival. Then he gave the bill to a councilman who was a member of the enrolling committee, who agreed to present it to the council president for signature. When Peery opened the council door to go into the street, a threatening mob had gathered. It had the Speaker of the House on the ground tearing his clothes in an effort to get possession of the capital bill. Seeing Peery, the Speaker shouted "Peery has the bill!" Immediately the mob seized Peery and began tearing off his coat and he heard cries of "Get a rope! Hang him!" Noise and shouting brought those who were in the council chamber to the door. Fighting off the mob they dragged Peery into the council chamber. The mob beat on the closed door and attempted to break it down, while Peery went out the back way. The mob was still about the front and he saw them chasing another councilman who they thought might have the bill. Seeing an opening in a board fence, Peery went through it and remained in hiding the remainder of the day.

When the bill was finally signed by the president of the council and presented to the Governor, the Governor returned it with a veto message. A bill was then introduced providing for location of the capital at Kingfisher. The supporters of Oklahoma City

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cast their support with the bill locating the capital at Kingfisher, which was passed, but this bill was also vetoed by the Governor.

Peery was re-elected as a representative to the Second Legislature (1892) of Oklahoma Territory. After the close of that session he was not a candidate to succeed himself and his legislative career was closed until after the admission of the state into the Union, when he was elected as a member of the Third Legislature under the state government, with his residence at Carnegie in Caddo County.

At the close of the second session of the territorial legislature, Peery took up his residence in El Reno where he had purchased property, and in November, 1893, he became associated with Travis F. Hensley, then publisher of the Oklahoma Democrat, later changed to the El Reno Democrat. After about a year, severing his connection with that paper, he became the publisher and editor of the El Reno Globe.

I first met Dan Peery at a Territorial democratic convention in the spring of 1900 at El Reno, the purpose of which was to elect delegates to the National Democratic Convention to be held at Kansas City. I was then publishing a little paper at Watonga and drove down the North Canadian—in a buggy, behind a team of ponies bought from some Indians. Dan was a candidate for delegate to the convention—so was I. There was really no occasion for a contest; we had nothing to fight about; all Territorial officials were appointed, but in those days a convention that did not raise the roof and tear up furniture was a dud. We had a glorious one at El Reno that year.

Jimmy Jacobs of Shawnee and Jasper Sipes of Oklahoma City were candidates for National Committeeman. Jacobs was successful in organization of the convention, and the temporary chairman was a bit arbitrary. His first ruling precipitated a riot. Part of the delegates turned their chairs and before one could grasp what was happening, two conventions were noisily operating in the same hall. Two sets of delegates were selected and duly instructed by their respective conventions to represent the people of Oklahoma Territory in the National Convention; and that convention made short shift of hearing our contentions—they seated both delegations, each with a half vote. As there never was any doubt that W. J. Bryan would be the nominee for President, no great strain was sustained by any delegate on the question of whom to support. Dan Peery was a delegate on one of the delegations.4

The next time I saw him was in El Reno the following year when registration was being held for those who entered the lottery

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for land in the opening of the Kiowa-Comanche country. He had sold the El Reno Globe and had a booth near the depot where special trains were bringing hundreds of people every day from every section of the union of states—people who would not have lived one one of those claims on a bet, but who could not suppress the human urge to get something for little or nothing. Dan was making out and notarizing registrations. Tall, swarthy under the prairie sun, he attracted the attention of fortune hunters who were pouring out of trains to spend fifteen minutes in registering; and the most of them drew numbers so high it was difficult to get them on a postal card. After drawing he assisted in locating many successful ones who had drawn a lucky number.

After finishing up this work he was one of the organizers of the Carnegie Townsite Company located at Carnegie, where he made his home the remainder of his life. It was there that I came in contact with him for a few months when I lived in Carnegie. He had built an office which he fitted up for a home. There was not much business to be transacted, for by that time most of the lots had been sold. He owned some farms not far from Carnegie, which with other interests occupied his attention.

In 1910 he was elected representative to the third Oklahoma legislature from a flotorial district of which Caddo County was a part. That same year an election had been held under an initiated bill for location of the state capital. Oklahoma City had been overwhelmingly chosen and Governor C. N. Haskell, by proclamation, declared Oklahoma City the capitol, in keeping with the mandate of the people of the state; and he moved the executive offices at once.

His act in so doing precipitated a legal battle which resulted in the Supreme Court annuling the election on grounds that initiation of the election call was defective. Immediately Governor Haskell rode up to Guthrie, issued a call for an extraordinary session of the state legislature to locate the state capital. Dan Peery having just been elected to the legislature, he was once more in a legislative move to locate a permanent capital but it was no such battle as the one in which he played a stellar role back in territorial days, for the people had issued their mandate—whether or not the election was legal.

The capital bill that was to settle the matter finally, bore Dan Peery's name. It was passed without delay, for there was little opposition. Twenty years after the somewhat dramatic scenes were enacted during the first attempt to locate the capital at Oklahoma City, Dan saw the accomplishment of his first efforts and fortune had made it possible for him to participate in the last act.

At the close of the session he returned to Carnegie. His life was a leisurely one. He was a great reader of books, newspapers and periodicals. He attended every meeting of the Oklahoma His-

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torical Society, an institution which he had helped5 organize in May, 1893, and with other newspaper men had nurtured through the years when it, so far as state aid was concerned, was an orphan, and when few people in the state gave it serious consideration. He was a member of the Board of Directors for ten years, and of the Building Committee in charge of the construction of the Historical building. At the January meeting of the Board of Directors in 1930, he was unanimously elected Secretary of the Society and began his duties there July 1st of the same year.

It is doubtful if he ever rendered better service to the state than in the position of Secretary of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The Historical Building was not yet completed. The structure was practically finished but much of the inside work was to be done. The great accumulation of newspapers, the library, documents and museum collections were not placed. Much of this work was done under his direction. He was familiar with the beginnings of Oklahoma Territory and knew where and from whom to get interesting sketches of those early days. He was surrounded by associates who were as familiar with original sources on the Indian Territory side of the state, and it was during the six years of his services that great additions were made to the already great stores of folklore, history, and exhibits in the archives of that great institution.

It was while serving as Secretary of the Historical Society that he married Mrs. Minnie Lee Doyle. Both had lived in Carnegie for a number of years, where they had been friends. When his services were ended as Secretary, they returned to Carnegie. There he died October 3, 1940. Services were held at the First Methodist Church by the Rev. Virgil Russell, the pastor. Hon. H. C. Jones, Oklahoma City, in a short address spoke a fitting tribute to the pioneer's life and read commendatory letters from state officials and associates of Mr. Peery. The body was taken to the old family home at Trenton, Missouri, for interment.

Survivors include his wife and two brothers, Arch Peery, Apache, Oklahoma, and Judge John T. Peery of Trenton, Missouri.

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